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Rubio: Fighting the ‘Convert or Die’ Caliphate in Iraq

All over the world, millions of innocent people are facing persecution, imprisonment, and even death because of their religious beliefs.

In 2013, the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory, according to the State Department’s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom. And the trend in 2014 is only getting worse.

But perhaps nowhere has intolerance, ruthlessness, and evil combined to destroy people of faith more than it has in Iraq, where the Islamic State is engaged in a systemic effort to wipe out the Christian presence there, along with all other religious minorities.

The Islamic State, an extreme Sunni militant group that emerged from al-Qaeda, has rampaged across Iraq, ridding towns of Christians and other religious minorities, just as it did in parts of Syria over the last year, persecuting that country’s Christians. It has used brutal tactics such as beheadings, rapes, forced conversions, and forced marriages of any non-Sunnis in its path.

The United States intervened militarily to assist 40,000 Iraqi Yazidis — a religion that fuses Christianity, Islam, and ancient Zoroastrianism — who were literally stuck on a mountaintop. Until U.S. and Kurdish military operations helped clear a path to safety, their options were to stay and die of thirst, or relocate and be massacred by the Islamic State militants waiting at the base of the mountain.

The U.S. government took the correct action in halting the genocidal campaign of the Islamic State by using our military to perform limited air strikes against their positions that were threatening Mount Sinjar and by conducting humanitarian airdrops to the Yazidis who were facing death from lack of water. Although the Obama administration has indicated that the mission has been accomplished on Mount Sinjar, there are reports that thousands of Yazidis still remain in peril on the mountain, in addition to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who need of humanitarian assistance in the Kurdish region of Iraq.

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